Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Tonight's Movie: Honeymoon for Three (1941)

HONEYMOON FOR THREE was a pleasant surprise, a sprightly little comedy with some very good dialogue and funny situations, well played by its deep cast.

Kenneth Bixby (George Brent), a writer on a book tour, is newly engaged to his efficient secretary Anne (Ann Sheridan). While visiting Cleveland, Ken is hotly pursued by Julie (Osa Massen), an old flame he scarcely remembers. Ken seems to enjoy the attention -- hard to understand, when he's got smarter and prettier Anne by his side -- and spends time with Julie when he should be promoting his book. Julie's concerned husband (Charlie Ruggles) and cousin Elizabeth (Jane Wyman) are following Julie and Ken. Craziness ensues.

The banter between Brent and Sheridan -- who were married the following year -- is fast-paced, reminding me at one point of HIS GIRL FRIDAY. Most of the lines are delivered at warp speed, so the movie crams quite a lot of plot into its 75 minutes. (Some of the dialogue was written by Julius and Philip Epstein, who also worked on 1942's CASABLANCA.) At its best the film is a very amusing farce, whether Brent is confounding a waiter (Walter Catlett) by jumping back and forth between two different restaurant tables or being pursued by subpoena-bearing attorneys.

It's a nice change of pace for Brent, who mostly starred in dramas in this phase of his career; the film harkens back to his mid-'30s comedies such as IN PERSON (1935), THE GOOSE AND THE GANDER (1935), and MORE THAN A SECRETARY (1936). Sheridan has a great way with a one-liner.

Lee Patrick plays a ditzy admirer who would like to name her baby after Ken, her favorite author. Herbert Anderson and Johnny Downs appear as lawyers, Phyllis Kennedy is the hotel maid, John Ridgely plays a desk clerk, and Cora Witherspoon is a member of a book club.

William T. Orr plays Jane Wyman's fiance, an attorney desperate for business. Orr married Jack Warner's stepdaughter Joy Page in 1945; he later became a well-known producer of Warner Bros. TV shows such as MAVERICK and 77 SUNSET STRIP.

The movie was a remake of the pre-Code GOODBYE AGAIN (1933), which starred Warren William, Joan Blondell, and Genevieve Tobin in the Brent, Sheridan, and Massen parts.

HONEYMOON FOR THREE was directed by Lloyd Bacon. It was shot in black and white by Ernie Haller.

HONEYMOON FOR THREE has not had a video or DVD release.

The movie can also be seen on Turner Classic Movies, where it most recently aired yesterday. The trailer is available on the TCM website.


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